Heavy metal has always had an affinity with classical music. Many of our most famous guitar heroes and shredders reach back to the great composers. Composer Stefan Schmidt, the mind behind the a cappella metal outfit Van Canto, takes this to the next level with his Heavatar project, and Opus 1 - All My Kingdoms.
Schmidt, on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, is helped in his adventure by Jörg Michael (d, ex-Stratovarius), David Vogt (b) and Sebastian Scharf (lg), with members of Van Canto as well. But, as noted in the promotional material, he gets a large hand from some great composers including Ludwig van Beethoven, Johan Sebastian Bach, Nicolo Paganini, and Georges Bizet.
Likely your first suspicion is that this 'classical music' motif applies to the guitar solos being in the neo-classical tradition. While that's somewhat correct, Schmidt was more looking to the arrangements of these classical music pieces and putting them into a melodic power metal context. Opus 1 - All My Kingdoms is largely Blind Guardian, Avantasia, and Stratovarius on the painter's palette, mixed together, and then shot with some steroids before Schmidt and company compose their musical tapestry. It's all rather grand and bombastic, all the things that you expect from European power metal.
The odd song out, however, is the last song To the Metal. At first glance, you would think it's a cover of the Gamma Ray song, but it's not, and neither is it's composition based on a particular classical composer. It's simply an ode to power metal and the bands that have come before and influenced Schmidt. Frankly, it's rather boring. Nevertheless, Opus 1 - All My Kingdoms is still a strong power metal album, thanks to the concept of building upon classical music.
On Opus 1 - All My Kingdoms, Van Canto mastermind Stefan Schmidt blends the arrangements of classical music composers with melodic power metal with rather impressive results.
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